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Does a College Education Really Matter?

Lifestyle & Opinion

By April Trevino

A college education isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, but never underestimate its worth. Nowadays, many people overestimate the importance of a college degree. Does a college education really matter or has experience become more important? Whether you’re going to college to pursue a specific career, advance in your current career, or achieve a degree is a personal goal, a college education may be more important than you think.

In researching this article, there were numerous considerations on whether job experience is more important than a college degree. Some argued that experience is more important, and there were those that agree that the two work together. There were very few, however, that said a college degree was the more important factor. According to the article titled Why Gaining Work Experience Is More Important Than Your Education, “Work experience and your degree go hand-in-hand.” So, when you are ready to pursue a career, it is important to take advantage of internships and jobs in your field of interest. This will allow you to gain experience in the field, even while pursuing a degree. In Work Experience Vs. Education: Which Lands You The Best Job? by Annie Mueller, the author agrees that, “Approaching potential employers with a substantial degree, accompanied by a good work history, can help you not only get the job, but be sure that you’re applying for the job you actually want.”

While many agree that work and participation in internships seems to be the best plan of action for degree-seekers who wish to use their education for employment, some students still choose not to work while in school so they can focus all of their energy on their education and will, therefore, lack experience. This choice doesn’t necessarily mean that the student won’t succeed at finding a job after college. Some lucky graduates will find a career in their desired field right after graduation, and some will find work outside their degree. Josh Beltran, a recent SPC graduate of the police academy, has been trying to get a job with every local police department. Almost seven months after graduating, he has yet to find a police job. Josh said he’s resorted to working as a security officer at the mall until he gets accepted to a police agency.

This may seem discouraging, but on the plus side, a college graduate like Josh will have more earning potential than those with only some college or even a high school diploma. According to a study conducted by The Hamilton Project “[a] typical bachelor’s graduate [is] earning just above $60,000 at career peak, about $20,000 more per year than an associate degree graduate.” In fact, an article in The Charlotte Post explained that “The earning potential over a lifetime is vastly different with each level of education achieved,” says Schottelkotte. “It translates to a potential of an extra $300 to $400 a week.”

Truth be told, college students work hard and pay tons of money for a degree with hopes that that piece of paper will guarantee them a role in their chosen field. Imagine the disappointment of learning that you’ve just spent anywhere from two to four years ( even more for part-time students) of your life getting an education thinking you were guaranteed a career, just to be told by a potential employer that you were passed over for another candidate with more experience. Sure, this can happen whether you have a degree or not, but it can be especially frustrating once you start receiving your student loan bills.

Ami Chiterra, Human Resources representative at HSN, illustrates how important it is to not only get a college degree, but also have work experience. “Both experience and the degree is taken into consideration.” says Chiterra. “It all depends on the role and the experience needed and/or required. I have seen candidates that do not have a degree work hard and do well, but may plateau at a certain point in their career due to not having a degree in a specific field because of the detailed requirements of the role.”

At the end of the day, does a college education really matter? Yes, of course it does, but experience still factors into the equation and, when paired together, experience and education are connected. It may seem in today’s workforce that experience outweighs a degree, but the potential for earning in most every case is greater. Sure, you will pay for a good education, but will your education pay you? The answer is absolutely!

Header photo from the St. Petersburg College Facebook page.

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